Lili Fang remembers driving through Oakland as a kid thinking, “how do they make those buildings so tall?”
Fang, an Oakland native, is a superintendent on the Biosolids Digester Facility Project (BDFP), an over $2 billion investment to transform the Southeast Treatment Plant into a modern resource recovery center, an attractive workplace and a neighborhood asset.
Growing up, Fang was always interested in structures being built and loved studying architecture. Although, she faced some challenges breaking into construction management after majoring in architecture from University of California, Berkeley. But after interning for construction firms in college, she knew it was what she wanted to do.
With the influence of her parents who showed her the importance of having a good work ethic and humility, Fang has been working in general contracting now for 11 years.
She said her greatest success has been, “Being able to drive through San Francisco and see physical evidence of my work. The life-long relationship I establish with the different teams and people I worked with throughout my career. Overall, just having a lot of fun and enjoy going to work every day.”
Fang admits it has been difficult as a woman in construction, especially in the field of supervision. Fang encourages others to not be intimidated and explained, “construction is filled with people who are willing to teach and train as long as you have the willingness to learn. Teamwork is crucial because you will always be working in a team environment.”
Working for MWH/Webcor on one of the SFPUC’s most important projects, Fang is responsible for the overall field supervision of the scope of work currently underway. Her team is building new state-of -the-art digesters, using modern technologies, further away from residents—along Jerrold Avenue and the Cal Train tracks. She also establishes and maintains the project schedule and site logistics, tracking and ensuring the project progress is continuing with safety and quality standards.
“Before I started on this job, I didn’t really think about sewage and wastewater treatment,” said Fang, reflecting on how much she has learned while working with the SFPUC. The digesters and the overall solids handling facility is where the treatment process recycles nutrients from wastewater into a high-quality fertilizer that helps reduce water use, pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and improves California’s farm soils.
Fang says, knowing the improvements include innovations which do more to protect against climate change and earthquakes is gratifying. She is proud to contribute to the completion of the new and improved Southeast Treatment Plant. When this work is done, the plant will work better, look better, and smell better for the whole community. Fang provides a final piece of advice as she thinks ahead to when the project is done, “always have an appreciation towards the craft and the people who make it happen.”